A Worldwide Reaction
As I pointed out in class, I’m fascinated with the book burnings that were “organized by German student groups” (1). As a student now, the thought of ever burning my books has never came to my mind, but as we discussed in class, it was a different time and people had a different mindset. Although, it still cannot be ignored on how big of a deal the book burnings during World War II were and the effects it had. Spielvogel even states, “there was no more visible symbol of Nazi anti-intellectualism than the infamous book burnings” (1).
In class we touched on the topic of German reaction to book burnings, but did not really get a chance to address the outside international reaction to the burnings, specifically the United States reaction. Therefore, I wanted to address it. From what I’ve heard and read about international reactions related to German actions, I was impressed to see the amount of international outrage that took place.
On the same day that massive book burnings took place in Germany, “massive street demonstrations took place in dozens of American cities” (2). The American Jewish Congress put these street demonstrations together their leader, Dr. Bernard Deutsch, is seen in this photo. These demonstrations proved to be successful. One became “the largest demonstration in New York City history up to that date, 100,000 people marched for more than six hours to protest events in Germany and the burning of books” (2). American newspapers also reported on the book burnings, some underestimating the seriousness of the situation, while others pointed out the dangers. Ludwig Lewisohn, from The Nation, “forecast the dawning of a “dark age,” an “insane” assault “against the life of the mind, intellectual values, and the rights of the human spirit” (2). As we know now, he would be predominantly correct.
- Jackson J. Spielvogel and David Redles, Hitler and Nazi Germany: A History Seventh Edition (New Jersey: Pearson Education, 2014), 152
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia, “Immediate American Responses to the Nazi Book Burnings,” October 14, 2015, http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007169, paragraph 2 & 3